Pinhole Coffee Connects With Bernal’s Filipino Community

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A few weeks ago, Bernalwood’s search robots brought an interesting headline to our attention: “Enterprising Filipina opens hip cafe in hot San Francisco neighborhood.” The accompanying article tells a very cool story about JoEllen Depakakibo, the fashionably caffeinated Filipina entrepreneur who opened Pinhole Coffee on Cortland Avenue.

Inquirer.net, a news site for Filipinos, describes how Miss JoEllen from Pinole has connected with the Filipino community in Bernal Heights:

“[Bernal Heights] was the type of neighborhood I was looking for, a mix of the old and modern, giving me the feel of the 1950s,” Depakakibo related.

“Here, you see amazing people walking and talking to each other,” she added. […] Bernal Heights has had its share of woes because of the rapid gentrification occuring in San Francisco. Before the tech surge, it was a more diverse mix of working class residents, artists and activists. Buck Bagot one of the founders of the Occupy Bernal Movement, was quoted in a piece in Bernalwood blog, saying, “When I moved here, every house on my block had a different ethnicity. There were Latinos, Blacks, American Indians, Samoans and Filipinos. … Now they’re all gone.”

Members of the Occupy Bernal movement are currently fighting to save homes from foreclosures and maintain diversity in the neighborhood. When Depakakibo chose Bernal Heights for her venture, she was not yet aware of the history of Filipinos in the neighborhood.

The late Filipino American Bill Sorro, a longtime resident and beloved civil rights and housing activist, was one of the leaders of the movement in the 1970s that struggled for nine years to prevent the eviction of low-income senior citizens, including Filipinos, from the International Hotel in San Francisco’s Chinatown. (The International Hotel Manilatown Center now stands on the site, a testament to the early organizing for affordable housing rights in the city.)

The number of Filipinos in Bernal Heights spiked starting in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which paved the way for immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East to become permanent residents in the U.S.

Gloria Carvajal, one of the beneficiaries of the law, has lived in the neighborhood since she arrived in the US in 1968 and worked for Pacific Bell Telephone Company (now AT&T) for almost 30 years until her early retirement in 1996. She was active in Saint Kevin Church’s close-knit Fil-Am Association, which no longer exists, but she continues to keep in touch and care for housebound members of the group. […]

One afternoon, Carvajal went to Pinhole to have a cup of java, and as soon as Depakakibo saw her, she bowed, took Carvajal’s hand, and put it against her forehead, a sign of respect for elders among Filipinos. In turn, Carvajal gave her a blessing and welcomed her to the neighborhood, immediately proceeding to tell the young Pinay about Filipinos living and working in Bernal Heights. While decades separated their ages, respect for an age-old tradition and love for coffee and community bonded them instantly.

Read the whole thing on Inquirer.net, here.

PHOTO: JoEllen Depakakibo (right) gives longtime Bernal Heights resident Gloria Carvajal a traditional Filipino greeting at Pinhile Coffee. Photo my Mila De Guzman for Inquirer.net

How to Help a Bernal Family Recover from the Massive Mission Fire

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The massive fire that destroyed the Mission Market building on the corner of Mission and 22nd Street on January 28 was a tragedy on so many levels — one fatality, 40+ residents lost their homes, businesses destroyed, and a historic Mission building gone forever.

Lisa Mudd is a former Bernal neighbor who recently relocated for work. She tells Bernalwood the fire has had a devastating impact on the Alvarez family, longtime Bernal residents who moved into the building at Mission and 22nd a year ago. Lisa writes:

We lived on Folsom between Eugenia & Powhattan,  at 3658. Our neighbors, Betty & Paolo Alvarez, raised their family and grandchildren in the house next to us. Marcie is one of their children and Mayra & Alfonso are their grandchildren.

They are a 30+ year Bernal family. Mayra was our babysitter and she is flat-out wonderful. She would often invite all the cousins over to our house to play and our kids loved it. Marcie, Mayra’s mom, is a single mom putting Alfonso and soon Mayra through college. They moved to the Mission about a year or so ago. Betty & Paolo have since moved, as well, because the cost of living became too much to bear.

They are a very kind family. I am heartbroken for them, but so incredibly thankful that they were rescued by our firefighters.

Former Neighbor Mayra Alvarez set up a crowdfunding page to help her family get back on its feet. Mayra tells us how she escaped the blaze:

My name is Mayra Alvarez. I am 17 and currently a senior at Galileo high school. Like every other senior, I am currently in the process of applying to college, hoping to pursue a career in nursing. Nursing is my career choice because I love to help people in need and give back to my community. I have been surrounded by nurses all my life due to my asthma and kidney illness. The college process is very difficult, especially when there are obstacles along the way; such as this one.

In the time of the fire, I was enjoying my dinner with my mother, as we began to smell the smoke. No yells or fire alarms were heard to warn us, just the black smoke burning our eyes and making it hard for me to breathe. I didn’t have many escape options, I was seconds away from jumping out the window, three floors up, as the fireman began to pull me out. Very little breathe, no inhaler, hope is all I had. I truly thought I would take my last breathe in apartment 316, my home, which is now gone for good.

We are currently looking for a stable place to live, but need as much help as we could get. I live with my brother and my mother, a hard working single mother. My brother is currently enrolled in college, and this tragic event has truly affected us all. We have lost everything: clothes, shoes, food and savings. Just like every new start, it’s time to start from scratch.

Oof. You can make a direct donation to help the Alvarez family right here.

Otherwise, you can also contribute to a general fund for victims of the January 28 fire here.

Finally, Miss Emmy from Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack on Mission Street in Bernal has also been in contact. She tells Bernalwood, “Please let our neighbors know we are collecting stuff for the fire victims this weeknd and forever how long.” The list of items the displaced families need is here; you can drop things off at Emmy’s, 3230 Mission Street (near Valencia).

PHOTO: Fire by Mission Local

Bernal Neighbor Creates Magic Fairy That Plays Mini-Golf

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Neighbor Dan

When we last saw Bernal neighbor Dan Rosenfeld, he left a rather memorable impression on Cortland Avenue when he hit the town looking like this:

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Now Neighbor Dan has combined technology, art, stagecraft, and pixie dust to create an innovative experience at Urban Putt, the nouveau miniature golf place on South Van Ness at 22nd.

Neighbor Dan tells Bernalwood:

Thought this might be of interest to Bernal folks. (I’m on the famous 200 block of Elsie).

I finally got around to documenting an interactive installation piece I did for Urban Putt. If folks haven’t been, Urban Putt is a super fun indoor minigolf course, bar, and restaurant, created by local artists and designers, built in a former mortuary in the Mission.

My piece, Sleepwalkers, is an interactive installation about beings that live inside the walls of that old building. It uses host of techniques to make it seem that a three inch tall luminous being is interacting with the physical world—including the hands of participants—while illuminating its environment.

This video conveys a sense of Neighbor Dan’s newest magic:

How did he do it?  Click here to peek inside Neighbor Dan’s bag of fairy golf tricks.

Attention, People of Elsie!  Please give Neighbor Dan lots of big high-fives.

PHOTOS: Screen grabs. Below, Big Head Dan, via Bernal alum Adrian Mendoza

Neighbor Meets Uber Driver Who Lives in Bernal Heights, Worries About Rent

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Neighbor Jen lives in the La Lengua Autonomous Zone, and she shares this story about how she recently met another neighbor who drives for Uber to make ends meet:

The Uber driver who picked me up today turned out to be my neighbor. He lives literally 3 doors down from me on Mission and has lived there for nearly 35 years. I’d never met him before today, but he told me he pays $900 for a 3-bedroom apartment thanks to rent-control. However, the building just next to him sold, so he is nervous he will be pushed out by “Silicon Valley guy” who is buying a lot of properties on Mission St.

I had an amazing ride with him, and got to hear about how he put 3 kids through college (and good schools too) and worked 16-hour days at a bank downtown and now drives an Uber a few hours a day because it isn’t “trabajo duro;” it’s fun for him and he only drives in Bernal/Noe/Mission. Even if he gets a fare that takes him downtown (like I did) he just turns around and heads back to the hood because that’s where he likes to drive.

Who knew Uber, or all companies, would help me meet my neighbor? I’ll be looking for him on the street to say hello, or snag a ride, and am glad to know that there still are *some* rent-controlled units around, especially on a block where every other storefront has turned over in the past year. For context, the people on the floor below me are paying $4300/month for a 1000sqft 3bed 2bath.

Yours in real estate tales,

Neighbor Jen down in La Lengua

Illustration: Bernalwood

RIP Bernice Van Eckhardt, 99, Elsie Neighbor and Expert Practitioner of the San Francisco High Life

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Neighbor Bernice Van Eckhardt lived on Cortland at Elsie for 40+ years. She died on January 11, just a few months short of her 100th birthday.

Neighbor Bernice moved to Bernal in 1972, when she was in her 60s. By the time she settled down in a former farmhouse here, she had already spent the previous 40 years living the high-life in San Francisco, most notably in the secret penthouse apartment hidden atop the fabulous Phelan Building on Market Street at O’Farrell downtown. (More on that in a moment.)

Because Neighbor Bernice lived on the corner of Elsie, and because the close-knit residents of Elsie near Cortland take great pride in calling themselves the “Best Block in Bernal,” Elsie-ians naturally embraced Neighbor Bernise as a neighborhood institution. The photo all the way up top above shows Neighbor Bernice at center stage during the fabulous Elsie Street Block Party last September.

Elsie Neighbor Michael Nolan wrote this wonderful bio and obituary for her:

Bernice Margaret Menasco Van Eckhardt
Born June 21, 1915
Died January 11, 2015

She was born in 1915 in Oregon in a town called Wendling, outside of Eugene. She died at her home in San Francisco in 2015, about five months short of her 100th birthday.

Her maiden name was Menasco. Her parents were Henry Clay and Mattie Menasco from Texas and Oklahoma respectively. In the 1920 Census when they lived in Portland, Henry was a street car conductor. On Jan. 15, 1920 when the census was taken of their family, Henry was 38, Mattie was 36, Lois was 15 and Bernice was 4 1/2.

Bernice came to San Francisco at age 22, about 1937. She lived on or near Stanyan Street and then Danvers Street. Her first marriage ended after 4 1/2 years. Then she met Frank Van Eckhardt, 20 years her senior, at a wedding. He was an advertising photographer for The Emporium. They
moved into her apartment at that time at Clement & 5th. They were married at the Presbyterian Church on Van Ness. Bernice worked as a hat check girl at the Palace Hotel.

About 1955, they moved into the Phelan Building Penthouse and lived there for 25 years. Various articles were written about their lovely abode, its outdoor garden and great views of the City. The Penthouse was built by Senator Phelan as a place where he could entertain visiting dignataries. It may have been the Fire Department that finally made the Van Eckhardts move because there was no fire escape.

Frank was born in Holland and came from a prominent family. One of his uncles was the Governor of Borneo when that nation was a Dutch possession.

Bernice bought her home on Cortland, at the corner of Elsie, in Bernal Heights in 1972.

Here’s a photo of Neighbor Bernice and her husband Frank Van Eckhardt enjoying the view from their bungalow penthouse atop the Phelan Building during the 1950s:

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Here’s a shot of the Van Eckhardts living large inside the small penthouse, which they shared with four cats, a Collie, five parakeets, two goldfish, and a large turtle:

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In 1963, The San Francisco Examiner did a glamorous article and photo spread (PDF) about the couple’s schwanky pad. The article notes that closet and kitchen space was extremely limited, but the couple enjoyed a 1200 square-foot outdoor garden on the deck that Bernice maintained. That’s Bernice, in the photo on the left side:

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The Examimer’s style critics were impressed with Neighbor Bernice’s proto-Ikea interior design acumen:

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In 2010,  a few decades after Neighbor Bernice settled into her Bernal Heights low-rise, Neighbor Michael Nolan took her to visit the Phelan Building penthouse for the first time since the 1970s:

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Neighbor Bernice was clearly an expert at the fine art of living, and her decision to settle down in a Bernal Heights farm house was just the final chapter in a lifetime spent living well.

Her awesome neighbors on Elsie already miss her…

PHOTOS: Block party and 2010 photos courtesy of Michael Nolan and Elsie Street Neighbors. Penthouse photos via this and this, with special thanks to Marcin Wichary.

Unholy “Donut Turducken” Created by Clever Bernal Heights Foodie

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There’s a new food fetish that’s attracting attention on the social media Interwebs, and it is deeply infused with Bernal Heights DNA. The Huffington Post captured the buzz:

The mention of a Thanksgiving turducken — you know, the turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken — will get mixed responses. Generally, avid carnivores are all for it; vegetarians are rightfully disgusted. But we’ve recently come across another type of turducken that we think everyone will be on board with: a donut turducken.

There’s no poultry of any kind to be found in this donut creation. The name was bestowed upon this breakfast pastry because it uses the same philosophy of the more traditional turducken: stuffing delicious things into already delicious things. It was made in the test kitchen of CHOW and we can’t stop thinking about it.

Consider how great chocolate frosted donuts are. Then top that with sprinkles and fill it with custard. The donut turducken takes this already truly stellar donut and stuffs it with an entire fried apple fritter. Amazing, we know.

If you click through to that Chow article mentioned above, you’ll find this little bit of backstory:

Last week at CHOW, Kim Laidlaw was testing donut recipes […] As she was finishing up, she did something monstrous: She wrapped an apple fritter in a custard-filled donut, then glazed it with chocolate and paved it with sprinkles as subversively menacing as clownface. We spent—oh—10 minutes trying to think of a name monumental enough to describe a thing so weighted with desires of the id. Nothing seemed as right as referencing that other fantasy of conflated wants, the turducken. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the turducken of donuts, a cream-filled, double-fried, chocolate-glazed vector of desire.

It’s insane! It’s creative! It looks delicious! Those are all things we associate with Bernal Heights, so it should come as no surprise that the diabolical inventor of the turducken of donuts is Bernal recipe guru and author Kim Laidlaw, who lives on the south side of Folsom near the Alemany Farmer’s Market.

And someday, when you see long lines of skinny-jeaned hipsters queuing in long lines to sample the Turducken of Donuts, you will know that it was born of Bernal Heights.

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PHOTOS: Turducken of Donuts by Chow. Kim Laidlaw and daughter via Kim Laidlaw

Chefs from Hillside Supper Club Join Zagat’s “30 Under 30″ List

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Emerging celebrity chef alert!

Chefs Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton from Hillside Supper Club on Precita Park were just named to  Zagat’s “30 Under 30″ list for San Francisco:

Former Johnson & Wales classmates Ferrari and Sutton collectively toiled away for years at fine-dining spots like Acquerello, Michael Mina and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G before realizing their restaurant dream the 2.0 way, by way of pop-ups and a Kickstarter campaign. “The transition from being a cook, to running a pop-up, to opening your own restaurant is like learning how to crawl before you walk”, explains Sutton, who along with his partner breaks the mold of the typical millennial chef. “Chefs our age [24 at the time] are really just beginning their career and have no idea even where to start with opening a place, let alone cooking meat to the correct temperature,” points out Ferrari. Not to mention find money in a city as expensive and competitive as San Francisco. Two and a half years later, HSC, built on the principle of simplicity, sustainability and camaraderie, has become an integral part of the emerging Bernal dining scene, and the guys are eyeing to open a second restaurant, providing the right situation arises.

A second restaurant?! Whaaat??  More dish on Team HSC from Zagat right here.

PHOTO: Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton via Zagats